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Moulins, mirth, monsoons and Mordor - the best of 2001
by Stephen Groenewegen

Film is a collaborative artform - a lot of different people contribute to every movie you see. Although a film may suck, there's nearly always something to admire (uniformly bad performances needn't stop you appreciating the music or the effects, for example). The disadvantage of having so many collaborators is that it's hard to get everything right at once.

The 10 films below (in alphabetical order, all released in Australia during 2001) came close to getting it right. They each had a great script, premise or story, that was brought to life by talented actors and a more than competent director and crew. Plus they had that something extra that excited or moved me, and made them special.

Amelie - Jean-Pierre Jeunet's fairytale about love and fate in a magical Paris was the most romantic film of the year.

The House of Mirth - Gillian Anderson surprised and excelled as Edith Wharton's doomed heroine. That Terence Davies outdid Merchant Ivory in the period drama department was made all too obvious by the latter's inferior 2001 offering, The Golden Bowl.

In the Mood for Love - This beautifully photographed (by Chris Doyle) picture from Wong Kar-Wai positively ached with sensual longing. It boasted fine performances from Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as the lovers united by their partners' infidelity.

Lantana - An astonishingly good ensemble cast, led by Anthony LaPaglia, made the characters in this intricate story of overlapping relationships real and immediate.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Who could have expected a blockbuster adaptation of one of last century's most loved literary works to be this good? Peter Jackson and his team created the most awesome visual spectacle of 2001.

Monsoon Wedding - Mira Nair's film about organising a traditional Punjabi wedding in a westernised middle class India could have been predictable and overly sentimental. Instead, it was slick, funny, poignant and wildly exuberant.

Moulin Rouge! - It took a second viewing to forget my qualms and surrender to the charms of Baz Luhrmann's ambitious musical spectacle. Ewan McGregor was unforgettable in a revelatory, fully-fledged star performance.

Requiem for a Dream - The negativity and despair of the final act was too much, but Requiem provided a showpiece of dazzling cinematic technique and powerful imagery.

Sexy Beast - Rescued the heist film from the smug, self-referential wit of Tarantino and his imitators. Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley led a marvellous cast, and director Jonathan Glazer debuted with flair. Tremendous fun.

Traffic - Soderbergh's drug war epic was surprisingly intimate and involving. He deserves kudos for keeping it low-key, rather than self-indulgent, with a running time well under three hours.

Runner-Up: Best in Show
Re-issue: Apocalypse Now Redux
Favourite Performances (male): Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana), Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!)
Favourite Performances (female): Gillian Anderson (The House of Mirth), Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde)
Newcomer: Colin Farrell (Tigerland)


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=484
originally posted: 01/04/02 18:41:31
last updated: 01/04/02 18:44:05
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